Peach Tree Or Nectarine Tree?
If you’re looking for ideas for a nice fruit tree for your yard, consider the nectarine tree. Such a choice can be a nice change of pace from apples, cherries, or pears. Plums are fine too, but f you get a heavily bearing tree, you might start thinking of it as the zucchini of fruit trees. Still, a bucket of fresh plums beats a sack of zucchini any time. A bucket of nectarines beats both.
Full-Sized Or Dwarf - You can choose either a standard of dwarf nectarine tree (Prunus persica nucipersica). You could choose a peach tree instead of course, although as far as taste is concerned there's very little difference between the two. Nectarines seem a little sweeter and juicier but that varies with the variety. The truth is, the nectarine is basically a peach, a bald peach if you will. It's the skin that is the primary difference between the two, and if you don't care for peeling, or a mouthful of fuzz, the smooth surfaced nectarine might be the better choice. The dwarf varieties usually grow to between 5 to 10 feet high and can be pruned to a convenient height in between if you wish. The full-sized varieties can attain a height of 25 feet, but also can be pruned to a lower height. While you can purchase a nectarine tree by mail order, a visit to your nearest nursery might be a better idea, unless you know for certain which variety is best suited for your particular area. Many varieties grow best in a dry summer area, where there are also a good number of cold days during the winter.
Prune With A Vengeance -If you do decide upon a nectarine tree, or several for that matter, be aware that they require fairly heavy pruning, more than your typical fruit tree. Fruit is set on one-year old branches, so once your tree begins to bear fruit, heavy winter pruning should result in a bumper crop. Don't just take a few snips here and a few there. You want to cut away at least 60% of the previous years growth. Also prune so that the center of the tree is fairly open, and has no crossing branches. This is good practice with almost any fruit tree. By keeping the center open, you may be able to avoid brown rot, a somewhat common disease affecting nectarine and peach trees. Besides providing delicious fruit, most varieties of the nectarine tree will put on a flower show for you each spring. They also make a nice ornamental addition to the yard or garden. If you purchase a single tree only, don't worry about pollination. Unlike some fruit trees, you only need to plant one to get fruit. All that is required is a visit by some bees at the appropriate time. When fruit starts to develop, thinning is a good idea. Use your judgment. You'll get larger fruit for certain, but also avoid the possibility of broken branches as a nectarine tree is usually a very heavy producer. You can prop branches up of course, but thinning is far and away the preferred approach.
Grow Your Own From Scratch - If you wish, you can grow your own tree from a nectarine pit. You'll have better luck if you purchase a nectarine that's been grown locally, so visiting a farmer's market or a nearby farm is a good idea. Otherwise, you won't necessarily know what variety of nectarine you're dealing with, and you might end up with a tree which is not suited to grow in your area. In addition, the quality of the fruit of a tree grown from seed rather than root stock can be unpredictable, but it's still fun trying, and you might just end up with loads of superbly tasting fruit.
After you've eaten the nectarine, set the bit aside to dry out for a day or two. Then you need to crack open the pit. Note that the pit is not the seed, rather it contains the seeds. You can crack the pit by gently tapping it with a hammer or putting it in a vice. This works far easier when the pit has been allowed to dry out. Remove the seeds from the pit and refrigerate them in a sealed container for at least 4 months. This mimics the cold weather that the seeds require if they are to germinate. Ten to twelve weeks before the last spring frost, remove the seeds from their refrigerated home, soak them overnight, place them back in the jar, cover them with moist potting soil, and stick them back in the refrigerator. Check for roots every couple of weeks. Once roots appear you can place the seedling in the ground if frost has passed, or plant it in a container for transplanting later. Either spring or fall is good for setting a young plant out of doors. Neither icy weather nor hot dry weather is a good condition for placing a young nectarine tree in the ground.